Sustainable Value Creation in the Furniture Industry: A Multiple Case Study

Thomas Mergen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The general purpose of this thesis is to examine how the implementation of sustainability into the value creation logic of furniture manufacturers can serve as driver for the creation of value. A multiple case study approach was therefore adopted that includes four case companies that are all located on the European market. Furthermore, the service dominant logic was adopted as a metatheoretical framework and the circular economy was used as a gold standard for the adoption of sustainability in a business context. The consumption of furniture contributes significantly to the annual production of waste. In 2016,10,78 million tons of furniture waste were produced from which only 80-90% were recycled, the rest ended up as landfill or was going to be incinerated. This can be regarded as highly unsustainable due to the increasing amount of extraction of virgin materials that is necessary to produce future products. This leads to the need for investigation what business processes could improve the furniture manufacturer’s impact on the environment. For that purpose, four furniture manufacturers were identified that already show a high integration of sustainability into their business model. For executing the analysis, a business model for sustainability by Abdelkafi & Täuscher was used in order to exemplify the varying relationships among the respective value dimensions. Furthermore, an assessment was made among the respective business models in terms of their adoption towards strong or weak sustainability. The findings indicate that the main driver for shifting a furniture manufacturer’s business model towards sustainability is determined through the incorporation of sustainable measures in its value creation capacity. It was identified that the degree to which the value creation capacity contribute to the firm ́s environmental value proposition is highly influenced through the procurement of sustainable resources, the consideration of logistics and in particular reverse logistics and the creation of resource cycles. Furthermore, while adopting the perspective of the service dominant logic, this thesis makes the proposition, that strong sustainable business models are determined through value in use while weak sustainable business models focus merely on value in exchange.

EducationsMSocSc in Service Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages89
SupervisorsSönnich Sönnichsen